Inside The Bills

The tight end run has begun

Posted by Chris Brown on April 26, 2009 – 3:44 pm

With So. Carolina TE Jared Cook coming off the board at the bottom half of round 3, the tight end run of pass catchers could be underway.

If the Bills want to be a part of it, they may have to trade up into the bottom of round 3. Whether they have the ammo to do it is a big question. They’d likely have to surrender picks in 2010 to do it. I’m not convinced they’re ready to do that.

Buffalo had the 10th pick in round 4, but traded it to Dallas so they could move back into round 2 to take Andy Levitre. But I’m not sure even that is early enough to get in on the TE pick party.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 4-17

Posted by Chris Brown on April 17, 2009 – 7:24 pm

Only one more Fan Friday after this prior to the draft, and Jason Peters trumps everything so we start there. I’m going to be in full scramble mode answering all your pre-draft questions this week. Let’s get started.

1. Chris,

ESPN is reporting that Peters was traded for a 1st(28th overall) and Philly’s 4th round pick this year as well as a undisclosed 2010 pick.  Now that this is a done deal which tackle do you see Buffalo taking at #11?

Tks,

Kevin Klump 

CB: First Kevin, nothing is done until either of the teams confirms it. But to entertain your question, should this trade indeed come to fruition I would say that the chances of Buffalo taking an offensive tackle increase somewhat, but not significantly. Here’s why.

I think the Bills will move Langston Walker to left tackle and plug Demetrius Bell in at right tackle. Bell came a long way in the past year and is very, very athletic. Asking him to step in at left tackle right now however, is too much to ask of a second-year player with no NFL starts on his resume. 

If you remember the Bills started Jason Peters on the right side when he first played tackle in a game filling in for an injured Mike Williams back in ‘05. I think doing the same with Bell is not out of the realm of possibility. If that’s the course they choose to take, then I think the Bills can still target a premier pass rusher, like Everette Brown at 11, who I have liked all along.

Then at 28 they could scoop up a top flight center like Alex Mack (Cal), OLB/DE Connor Barwin (Connor Barwin) or Larry English (No. Illinois) or tight end Brandon Pettigrew (OK State) if he happens to still be on the board. Personally I think Pettigrew will be gone by 25 to Atlanta or 26 to Baltimore.  

I’m not saying that an offensive tackle like Michael Oher (Ole Miss) isn’t a possibility at 11, but I don’t think it means they’re forced to take one there. Heck they could even get a solid right tackle prospect in Eben Britton (Arizona St.) at 28 if they wanted.  

But this organization has a lot of faith in Bell’s long term potential and after successfully developing Peters, who wasn’t an offensive tackle until Buffalo moved him, I believe they feel they can develop Bell into a dependable starter.

I guess we’ll all know better in about a week.

 

2. Hey Chris,

I know the Bills have all but announced Hangartner the center for next season, but could it be a smoke screen and could the Bills be eying up someone like Alex Mack in the draft?  Then moving Hangartner to guard?

CB: I wouldn’t rule anything out at this point, but Hangartner has said his best position is center and I get the sense the organization is committed to him playing in the pivot. You want to put the players in positions where they can best succeed, and for Hangartner that’s center, in his opinion and the opinion of the organization.

 

3. Chris, just about everyone in the Bills community including yourself keeps saying that the team’s greatest need going into 2009 is to improve its pass rush.  But isn’t it a fact that the Bills had the # 13 defense in the NFL last year against the pass?  If that’s true, isn’t improving the pass rush more of a luxury than a necessity, especially given the fact that the offense ranked near the bottom of the league in just about every important category?  Shouldn’t landing a first-rate TE and Center trump acquiring a situational pass rusher who plays mainly on third down?  Last year we insisted on getting “value” from our first round pick by drafting a CB and ended up not getting the kind of TE we desperately needed, when we could have traded down and drafted John Carlson.  I hope that doesn’t happen in 2009, leaving the offense shortchanged once again.

Dan, Rochester

CB: While I understand the point you’re trying to make, the ranking of the pass defense in 2008 (13th) is a bit misleading. The reason why is because teams still had fair to good success running the ball against Buffalo when all was said and done. The Bills finished 22nd against the run and surrendered over 120 yards per game on the ground. 

When teams run that well against you they don’t have to throw as much reducing the yards a defense gives up passing thereby improving the ranking against the pass.

Some might say that run defense figure means they should get another defensive tackle, but any hope of getting B.J. Raji at 11 is a pipe dream. He’ll be gone by the sixth pick.

As for the pass rush here’s why myself and the majority of fans I’ve spoken with feel the pass rush has to be addressed. Over the past two years Buffalo has a total of 50 sacks. Combining 2007 and 2008 that ranks 29th in the league, with only Cleveland, Cincinnati and Kansas City with lesser production over that span. The pass rush has to be addressed early if you wish to get a player that can help you right away. 

 

 

4. Chris,

Just read your blog on S. Carolina TE Cook. I can see where interest in this guy is growing and Nelson/Cook could be neck and neck. I don’t agree however with your assessment that with the addition of T.O. the Bills need for a TE is reduced. Personally I believe the addition of a real TE is of paramount importance. That along with improving the OL interior to me should be of primary importance to the Bills. I know you believe the Bills should go after a DE with their first pick to improve the pass rush, but I believe making the offense significantly better is the real key. Our struggles last season were offense related.

Your thoughts?

Bill Kubera

Cicero, NY

CB: Perhaps I didn’t state my opinion on the tight end well enough. When I said that the need for a playmaking tight end was reduced by the signing of Owens, I meant for 2009. This year, if you don’t have a playmaking tight end ready to make plays and have an instant impact on your offense you’re not dead in the water.

I still maintain that the pass rush is priority number one. I think tight end can be addressed in rounds two or three depending on what players the Bills covet most at that position. That player can come in as a rookie in 2009, get his feet wet without the pressure of making tons of plays. Then the following year when Owens is probably gone he and James Hardy can step up and fill the void in the passing game together.

I agree offensive line is a need area too. In my ideal draft Buffalo gets a premier pass rusher in the first (Brown?), a solid interior lineman in the second (Wood?) and a pass catching tight end in the third (Coffman?). If this reported Peters trade happens, then pass rusher first, OL bottom of first, pass catching TE in 2nd.

 

5. Hey Chris,
I wanted to get your opinion on Oregon OL Max Unger.  In doing some player research I have developed a man crush on Unger and would love to see him in a Bills uniform.  I love his versalitility as he can play center, guard, or tackle plus he brings top notch intangibles and experience to the table.  I think he would be a great add with our second round pick, if he lasts that long.  Anyways, your opinion would be greatly appreciated.
Thank You,
 
Brad

CB: I think Max Unger would be a good pick. Yes, he is versatile having played some tackle. Though he’s never played guard, I think he could handle it.  

Personally I prefer Alex Mack and Eric Wood to Unger. Mack and Wood have a little more nastiness and tenacity to their game, while Unger is more of a technician.

Don’t get me wrong I respect Unger’s game a lot and wouldn’t be upset if he wound up with the Bills. I just like Mack and Wood a bit better.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

TE Cook has brother in draft pool

Posted by Chris Brown on April 6, 2009 – 4:39 pm

Countdown to Draft Day: Tight EndsSouth Carolina TE Jared Cook  might not be the only member of his family latching on with an NFL club draft weekend.

His brother is Ole Miss starting fullback Jason Cook. An old school true lead fullback Cook could come off the board late in the draft or sign somewhere as an undrafted rookie free agent.

Ironically, younger brother Jared wanted to join his brother at Ole Miss, but the Rebels didn’t want him.
“Yeah me and my brother always talked about playing for the same team,” said Jared. “Actually Ole Miss didn’t want me and they thought I was too slow to play for them. I was disappointed, but you have to pick up the pieces and roll.”

Too slow? A receiver turned tight end running a 4.49 is too slow, for Ole Miss?

Of course no one is calling the 246-pound tight end slow now, not even his older brother.

“I kind of tease him a little bit about how much faster I am than him,” said Jared.

The younger Cook is hopeful that a missed opportunity to play together in college somehow changes for the better in the NFL.
 
“It’d still be nice to have my brother on the same team as me,” said Jared.

Countdown to Draft Day: Tight Ends


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There will be competition for So. Carolina TE Cook

Posted by Chris Brown on March 9, 2009 – 3:08 pm

South Carolina TE Jared Cook is a draft prospect that I think would be a good fit for the Bills in terms of stretching the field and pushing the seam from that position. But after an impressive combine workout, it looks like two teams picking ahead of the Bills in round two have their eye on him as well.

According to the Middletown Journal, the Bengals and Browns, both with tight end position needs are enamored with Cook, who is has game breaking pass catching potential. He’s still got to work on his blocking, admitting that to me himself at the combine, but offers rare athleticism and sounds committed to get the blocking end of things down.

I thought he’d come off the board not long after Southern Miss’ Shawn Nelson in round two, but they might be neck and neck. I’m not sure either will be there for the Bills in the 2nd. Of course another weapon in the passing game is less pressing for Buffalo now after the acquisition of Terrell Owens.


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Fan Friday 3-6

Posted by Chris Brown on March 6, 2009 – 4:36 pm

Here’s the latest installment. Catch up with you next week.

1. Hay Chris,
I was just wondering what your thoughts were about Steve Johnson?
I have the same feeling about him that I had about Fred Jackson, 2 yrs ago when I saw Fred’s Yards Per Carry average in the preseason I thought this guy is money!! Then when he got a chance on the field he proved everything I was thinking. I feel the same way about Steve Johnson , from what I saw at the end of last year in games and also through out the season in practice film and all I can think this guy is money!! Besides at 6 ft 2 in 202 lbs his size is a welcome sight from the current corps that we have . Not knocking Lee , Roscoe or Josh but the extra inches may help ? Any way just wondering what you think ?
Tracy
So. Fla

CB: I think Steve Johnson has a bright future here, even though the Bills are clearly looking to augment the receiving the corps with a proven vet with the likes of Coles and Galloway coming through here.

It wouldn’t shock me if Johnson is one of the team’s top four receivers in 2009, especially if James Hardy needs more time to get completely right with his knee coming off ACL surgery. The coaching staff is high on him, so I think you’ll see more of him next season.
2. I have a thought for you Chris that you may disagree with but I am very interested to hear your answer.  A team like the Rams at pick number two is looking to Draft an OT with their first pick.  They however have a few older pieces and feel like maybe they could be a good team next year (Bulger, Jackson, Holt).  Would you consider trading Jason Peters to the Rams for the Second Overall pick?  The Bills don’t want to give him the big contract when he has years left, instead we can get a younger potentially equally talented OT in the first round (Oher at 11, Smith at 2, Trade down from two and pick up another first rounder or second rounder and have 4 picks in the first 2 rounds?)
Billy Rom

CB: I would not consider trading Jason Peters. I believe the Bills are planning to renegotiate his contract and resolve that issue. The bottom line is on a team that needs more talent, according to Mr. Wilson himself, you don’t strip the team of some of its best talent, namely Jason Peters. Finding a blind side Pro Bowl caliber left tackle that can play for you for the next 8 years is not something to be taken lightly. Those guys don’t just show up on your doorstep. It wasn’t long ago that the team had been searching for a left tackle. Even though there are some attractive OTs in the draft this year, to me it’s not worth it because they are unknown commodities at this level.

It’s the old bird in the hand or two in the bush deal. I’ve got Peters, I know what type of player he is and with a new contract I trust he’d return to his Pro Bowl form. I’m not trading that away. I wouldn’t mind acquiring Torry Holt however, but in all likelihood he’ll be released before March 17 when he’s due a roster bonus.
3. Hey Chris,
 
Do you have any updates on Alvin Bowen’s knee, Aaron Schobel’s foot, and Trent Edward’s shoulder? Also want to thank you for comments on OSU TE Brandon Pettigrew.
 
Jeremiah (Bills fan in FL)

CB: Hopefully you saw our story this week on Alvin Bowen on the home page. He’s hopeful that he’ll be ready for OTAs in the spring. As for Schobel, how much he’ll be allowed to do come the spring remains to be seen, but not needing surgery was a big plus. Edwards shoulder is fine. Just normal soreness after a season of wear and tear.
4. Hi Chris
 
Longtime Bills fan, in the Air Force and stationed in Cowboys country in New Mexico
 
Had a couple of questions about McCargo: 
–With the loss of Kollar and hiring of Sanders as DL coach – does that improve McCargo’s chances of sticking or is Fewell or Jauron as down on McCargo as Kollar was?
–Do the Bills have medical concerns on his back that may preclude him from playing again (or was it strictly the Colts having tougher standards)?
–he has a lot of talent – is it lack of hussle or lack of football intelligence and knowing his responsibilities in the D that has some of the coaches down on him?
 
Thanks
Tim

CB: John McCargo has been working very hard this offseason, coming into the facility at One Bills Drive almost every day to rehab the disc problem in his back. I don’t think there’s any question that Kollar and McCargo was not a good mix as far as the coach/player relationship goes.

I think Bob Sanders is a better fit for McCargo, which is why I have hope that he can still turn into a solid contributor for this team. I don’t get the sense that Perry Fewell or Dick Jauron are as down on him as some might think.

You’re right he has talent. Now he has to show it on the field on a consistent basis and he may just blossom into what the scouts believed he could be at this level from the outset.
5. Dear Chris,
1st of all keep up the blog. I think I check it around 4 times a day. 2nd I agree with the DE pick. I’ve been checking out some mock drafts and a lot have the TE going to the Bills but I see DE like you. Who are some TEs that could be available later to look at? anyone you like that is not getting talked about?

CB: Well they’ve been talked about, but I think some good second round options are Southern Miss’ Shawn Nelson and South Carolina’s Jared Cook. Both have good builds, athleticism and solid pass catching ability. They both need work on their blocking, but a weapon in the passing game is the higher priority. Wouldn’t mind seeing either of those players on this roster.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Mock draft update

Posted by Chris Brown on March 2, 2009 – 4:35 pm

I already liked the way the most recent Scout.com mock draft by Chris Steuber played out in the first round with FSU’s Everette Brown going to Buffalo at 11. But the second round became even more intriguing.

He had the Bills taking South Carolina TE Jared Cook (6’5″ 246) in round two. I talked to the former wide receiver prior to his blistering Combine workout that included a 4.5 40-time, a 41-inch vertical, 23 reps on the bench (despite long arms) and over 10 feet in the broad jump (10’3″). The guy is confident and would definitely fit the game breaking tight end need the Bills have at the position , but he knows right now his game has limitations.

“I’m a fast guy that can stretch the field well, catch the ball well, gets open well,” said Cook. “I’m an improving blocker and just looking to learn a lot.”

Cook came across well and has already shown he’s open to taking on added roles as he let Steve Spurrier at South Carolina move him from WR to TE. Whether he’s worth a high second-round pick is tough to gauge, but he undoubtedly has the physical tools.


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Cook posts best 40 time for TEs

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2009 – 7:13 pm

Southern Miss TE Shawn Nelson did not disappoint with his 40 time here on Saturday posting a 4.53.

Cal TE Cameron Morrah ran a 4.59, Florida’s Cornelius Ingram had a strong 4.62, which was important coming off his ACL injury. 

Rice’s James Casey ran a 4.71 and WNY native Dan Gronkowski ran a respectable 4.78. Brandon Pettigrew ran a 4.85.

But they were all topped by South Carolina’s Jared Cook who posted the best time of the group, a 4.42. Cook a former receiver had said he was hoping for the 4.4s on Thursday. And he got it.

Cook is a mismatch for defenses in the passing game. He’s projected as a 2nd to 3rd round pick, but this could make him a solid second rounder.


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Some bench press numbers

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2009 – 3:49 am

By no means are these all the bench press numbers for the OL and TE positions, but here are some of the ones I’ve got courtesy of NFL Draft Scout.com.

Texas Tech guard Louis Vasquez had the high count of the day with 39 reps of 225. Other offensive linemen that fared well were Washington C Juan Garcia (34), BYU guard Travis Bright (34), UTEP C Robby Felix (33)Baylor OT Jason Smith (33), Penn State C A.Q Shipley (33), Ohio State OT Alex Boone (33) , South Carolina OT/G Jamon Meredith (31) and Oklahoma C Jon Cooper (31).

Ranked among the top centers Max Unger had 22 reps, one of the top tackles Eugene Monroe had 23 reps, Michael Oher had 21.

At tight end James Casey was impressive with 28 reps and was matched by Wisconsin’s Travis Beckum (28). WNY native and Maryland TE Dan Gronkowski had 26 reps. Cal’s Cameron Morrah (24), North Carolina’s Richard Quinn (24), South Carolina Jared Cook (23) and Brandon Pettigrew (22) all had respectable showings.

Perhaps the most impressive performance however, was that of USC kicker David Buehler. At 6’2″ and 219 pounds, Buehler put up 25 reps. Congrats fella.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

So. Carolina TE Cook hoping to run in 4.4s as well

Posted by Chris Brown on February 19, 2009 – 10:15 pm

The gauntlet has been laid down by the tight ends here at the Combine. First OSU TE Brandon Pettigrew says he’s going to run 4.4 (though he laughed for a moment when he said it). And now South Carolina TE Jared Cook said the same though he didn’t exactly promise it.

“I’m not sure yet,” said Cook. “Hopefully I can get in the 4.4s.”

 

Cook is a former wide receiver, but according to him was considered too slow for Ole Miss who did not offer him a scholarship. According to NFL Draft Scout Cook reportedly ran a 4.37 as recently as 2007. He’s been clocked this year on the low end at 4.46.

 

If he runs a 4.37 it will raise eyebrows and his stock, though he’s still got work to do as a blocker having only been a tight end for one full year. Cook is currently viewed as a low 2nd or early 3rd round pick.

 


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